BF community projection: Emeka Okafor

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What do you expect from Emeka Okafor this season?

You could make the argument the most accomplished player on the Wizards is Emeka Okafor. He was the Most Outstanding Player when Connecticut won the National Championship in 2004, won the Rookie of the Year award (ahead of Dwight Howard) in 2005, and he has the second highest career PER of anyone on the roster. You probably don't think about that as much when you look at Emeka Okafor, because he's also the highest paid athlete in Washington D.C. right now, and no one expects him to be the best player in Washington by any stretch of the imagination.

By now, you know the book on Okafor: Solid defensive presence, doesn't offer much offensively, and he's occasionally prone to injuries. Last year, he only played 27 games due to injury and saw his stats fall across the board. He posted career lows in points, rebounds and blocks per 36 minutes. But let's keep in mind, even when he was healthy, he was playing on a New Orleans squad who only finished with one more win than the Wizards, so his teammates weren't doing much to give him chance to succeed, either.

In order to maximize the investment they Wizards made with Nene, Okafor needs to get back to the level we saw him playing in 2010-11 with the Hornets. This year's team is set up a lot like that year's squad, centered around the point guard with a skilled power forward and streaky play from the wings. If he can get back to that level, the Wizards have a better shot of ending the season the same way those Hornets did, by making the playoffs and making things frustrating for the second-seeded Lakers.

POSITIVES TO BUILD ON: The only area where Emeka Okafor has any improvement last year was passing. After years of declining assist averages, Okafor stepped up his passing game last year, almost doubling his AST% from 3.0 in 2010-11 to 5.3 in 2011-12.

AREAS TO IMPROVE: Basically, everything else. The injuries and lack of roster support explain most of his decline last season. If there's one area you'd like to ensure gets back to normal, it's rebounding. While most of the off-season was dedicated to shoring up the team's shooting woes, there are still some deficiencies with rebounding (http://www.bulletsforever.com/2012/6/1/3057010/nba-draft-2012-thomas-robinson-washington-wizards). Hopefully the combined presence of Okafor and Nene can make up for the lack of a true rebounding menace on the squad this season.

PROJECTED SPOT IN THE ROTATION: Okafor should be the team's starting center this season and be the guy called on to hold down the middle when the team needs a stop. But with Nene's flexibility to play center, it will be interesting to see how often Wittman tries to go small to utilize Vesely, Booker and Seraphin, especially in crunch time.

OUTLOOK: Like Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor has plenty of incentive to make this season one to remember. He turns 30 on Friday, so the window to capitalize on his abilities is closing quickly. If he can put together a strong campaign and enter a shallow free agent market, there's a slim chance he couse use that early termination option in his contract at the end of the season. Even if he doesn't, there's no reason to think Okafor won't be trying to play like he's in a contract year, which will hopefully play in the Wizards' favor.

What are your projected statistics for Okafor? What are your general expectations of him?

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